Kerala high court rejects plea questioning re-appointment of Kannur VC

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The Kerala High Court on Wednesday rejected the plea questioning the re-appointment of Kannur University vice-chancellor Dr Gopinath Raveendran much to the satisfaction of the state government.

His re-appointment was one of the reasons for a recent tiff between the Kerala government and Governor Arif Mohammad Khan and the latter sent a strongly-worded letter to the CM saying he was forced make certain appointments including that of Kannur VC. Raveendran was re-appointed as the VC on November 23, on the day his first term ended.

The plea challenging the re-appointment was moved by university senate member Dr Ramachandran Keezoth and two others. They pleaded that the re-appointment was against the norms of the University Grants Commission and he had also crossed the permissible age of 60 years. They also contended that it was done in lieu of some appointments made by the VC flouting all norms.

But Justice Amit Rawal dismissed the plea later observing that all records produced before the court show that norms were in place. Though the petition was filed last month the court refused to entertain the petitioner’s bid to file a fresh affidavit in view of the raging controversy between the Kerala Government and Governor. Petitioners said they will move the division bench against the single judge verdict.

State higher education minister R Bindu welcomed the high court verdict. Her two letters to the Governor were leaked recently in which she asked the Governor to re-appoint Raveendran and do away with the search committee for the new VC. The Opposition has been demanding her resignation saying she pressurised the Governor to re-appoint Raveendran.

The Governor had sent a letter to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on December 8 in which he said he was really pained over the “dipping standard” of the higher education sector and blamed “brazen political interference” as the reason for this. He also asked the government to take up the chancellor’s post if political interference continued.

The chief minister on Sunday asked the Governor not to take any action in a hurry but the latter refused to budge. According to political observers, the real trigger (between the Governor and government) was the reappointment of Raveendran. He was reappointed for a period of four years after the government issued a notification and appointed a selection committee to select the new VC.

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